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Impact of ICT-enabled product and process innovations at the Bottom of the Pyramid: a market separations approach

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Information Technology
Issue number4
Volume28
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)279-295
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date8/10/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Innovations in products and processes enabled by ICT such as mobile phones and the Internet constitute a rapidly emerging means of market development at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP), which consists of people who earn less than US$2 a day. However, these ICT-enabled market development efforts have not always yielded positive developmental outcomes, in part because market development is hindered by remote location and geographic dispersion of BOP communities, their low and uncertain incomes, and informal local markets having exploitative intermediaries. These conditions imply that BOP consumers and producers are ‘separated’ from marketers and customers, respectively, through physical distance, lack of financial ability, and information asymmetry. The paper examines the question: How do ICT innovations in products and processes impact development at the BOP? Drawing perspectives from the information systems (IS) and marketing literatures, we analyze how and why ICT-enabled innovations in products and processes deployed for market development at the BOP, enable developmental outcomes through reduction of market separations. Analyzing qualitative data gathered from interviews with 33 respondents in India, including BOP individuals, social entrepreneurs, and managers from private organizations, we find that ICT-enabled product and process innovations do have the potential to reduce four types of separations that ‘disconnect’ BOP consumers (producers) from marketers (customers). However, situated social conditions influence the impact of ICT innovations on reduction of separations. The reduction of separations leads to developmental outcomes at the BOP. Implications of our findings for theory, practice, and policy are discussed.